When Jen’s email pings into my inbox, my first reaction is to lean back and squint.
I’ve asked Jen for feedback on the course she just took and I’m expecting/hoping for a few kind words, some constructive criticism, and maybe some hard numbers if she’s willing to share them. Some numbers in the low four figures.
That’s what I was expecting.
Instead, Jen told me that my course had given her the courage to negotiate a €12,000 raise. That’s almost $14,000 for us Yanks! Whaaaaaaaat?!
And while I am, of course, happy that Bank Boost nudged Jen to negotiate for a bigger salary, the truth is this: Jen got what she wanted because she asked for it.
There are a million blog posts bouncing around the internet that tell us how to reach goals, manifest our dreams, and change our habits. (I know this because I write a lot of those blog posts.)
Many of these blog posts walk us through the art of getting clear on what we want, breaking our goals into teeny, tiny steps, and working towards what we want on a consistent basis. And these are all important parts of getting what we want.
But. None of that means anything if we’re not willing to ask for it. Let's say you want to get into an amazing party. Breaking goals into little pieces is walking up the sidewalk, asking for what you want is knocking on the door. Click To Tweet
“I have extremely specific window treatment needs.”
As ridiculous as it sounds, this is a real, actual thought process I’ve had for the last three years.
I’ll spare you the boring specifics, but the windows in our master bedroom are strange. For the longest time, I was convinced that the only answer was $350 worth of custom-made roller blinds.
I set aside $350 for my custom-made window treatments. I measured the windows approximately 17 times. I visited the overpriced window treatment website 19 times and never pulled the trigger.
Every night I glared at the terrible dark brown curtains that came with the house and thought about how much better my life would be once I had my fancy roller blinds. Life is what happens on the other side of good window treatments!!!
And then, while poking around a thrift store on a random Tuesday, I stumbled upon a set of pretty, cream-colored curtains for $7. They matched the paint in our bedroom, they were thick enough to block out the light from the street, and they were $7. What did I have to lose?
I imagine you can see where this is going, reader. I took those $7 curtains home, I “hemmed” them with Stitch Witchery, and slung them on the very same curtain rods that had been home to the awful brown drapes I hated.
Was this the window treatment a professional interior designer would recommend? Probably not.
Was it the solution I’d been dreaming of for three years? No.
But it was exponentially better than what I’d been doing. And would the expensive, custom blinds have been $343 better than these second hand curtains? I don’t think so.
And my “good enough” solution meant that I now had hundreds of dollars to put towards other things. I could get that massage I needed. I could take my friend out for a nice birthday meal. I could get the exit row upgrade on my next flight.
All because I opted for a quite-good-but-not-totally-perfect option.
Saying “good enough” in one area of your life opens up time, energy, and money to be awesome in other areas. Not every aspect of your life has to be polished and remodeled and optimized to perfection. Click To TweetYou know what happens when we allow ourselves the “good enough” option? Life opens up. We can breathe again. Hundreds of hours and dollars are available to us because we kept using the two-year old iphone and decided we could paint the cabinets instead of remodeling the whole kitchen.
Most of us are exchanging time for money. We spend 40-60 hours a week working to earn the money that we spend during the other hours. The median income in America is about $32,000 a year, or $15 an hour. The average American would have to exchange 22 hours of their life to buy those damn custom blinds I wanted.
That’s 22 hours of life that could be spent playing with our kids, throwing sticks for our dogs, re-reading our favorite books, walking along the river as the sun set, or just watching funny videos on Youtube.
That’s a lot of life we could be living and enjoying because we chose the ‘good enough’ option.
What if – instead of buying a new outfit for every wedding and holiday party – we just wore something we already owned with some different accessories?
What if we decided that the recipe would be fine if we used dried thyme instead of fresh and medium cheddar instead of extra sharp – because that’s what we have on hand?
What if – when the car gets a scuff on the back bumper and the mechanic says it’ll cost $350 to replace – we buy the $12 paint pen and shrug?
And what if – after we did all those things – we took the money and time and energy we saved saying “Good enough!” and spent it on things we were really excited about? (Because how excited can you really be about a perfectly painted bumper?)
Now, you are, of course, allowed to have nice things. Sometimes upgrading to the better blender, the nicer sports bra, the more supportive mattress truly will improve your life. I am not exaggerating when I say that my Roomba is an investment in the quality of my life.
But when we constantly spend time, money, and energy trying to make something that’s already an A into an A++ we burn ourselves out and make ourselves broke.
3 questions that can help you find “good enough”
How will things be different if I upgrade this?
If we’re talking about a Roomba, your life will be different because your floors and carpets will be effortlessly clean, you won’t argue with your partner about who’s going to vacuum, and you’ll stop quietly resenting your dog. (No, I will never stop shouting about my love for my Roomba!!!)
But not every purchase does this. Will your life be dramatically improved by replacing one working television with a different working television? By getting a Vitamix when you already have a Nutribullet? Will your lunches taste better when you eat them out of one of those hipstery metal bento boxes instead of tupperware?
Maybe! Maybe not. Everyone’s answer is different. But I think it’s important to take the time to actually ask ourselves this question.
How many hours would I have to work to pay for this?
Truly, one of the very few personal finance books I recommend is Your Money Or Your Life. The crux of the book is this: most of us exchange our time for money. The less money we spend, the more hours of our lives we have to spend the way we want.
So run the numbers. How many hours do you spend working each week? And how much time do you spend commuting? Divide your yearly take home pay by the amount of time you devote to work in a given year.
Is that new phone worth 10 hours of your life? Is the just-wearing-it-for-one-wedding outfit worth 15 hours? Maybe they are! But again, I think it’s an important question
Why am I buying this really?
Sometimes to answer is “Because I’m sick of vacuuming all the time” or “I spend $15 a week on hummus and this nice blender means I can make my own.”
But sometimes the answer is “Because I’m bored” or “Because all my friends are remodeling their kitchens” or “Because I’m the only person at the coffee shop who’s not using a Macbook.”
You might be surprised by what you discover when you’re really honest with yourself.
So if you’re looking for permission to allow some part of your life to be “good enough,” this is it. <3
I want to hear from you! Do you struggle with feeling like you need to improve and upgrade everything? What’s one area of your life you’re allowing to be “good enough”?
Photos by Junior Moran and rawpixel on Unsplash
How was your week, friends? I spent most of mine getting all the new Bank Boost students situated and getting ready for two weeks in Costa Rica. I’m there right now if you’d like to follow along on Instagram!
Links for you!
Our resolution ideas are often – what’s the word? – unsustainable? Unrealistic? Way too ambitious which sets us up to fail and then feel bad about ourselves thus creating a vicious cycle of self-doubt?
(that last one was 22 words)
If you’re nodding along because you’ve already abandoned your resolutions or good habits by January 9th, may I be so bold as to suggest one (or maybe two AT MOST) of these tiny, super doable resolutions instead?When we succeed repeatedly at tiny things, we're building the courage to take on big things. Click To Tweet
25 super tiny resolution ideas you could actually do
I know we’ve left the holiday season, but I only recently discovered this Christmas song and now you need to know about it, too!
How was your week, friends? I spent most of mine launching Bank Boost – class officially starts tomorrow! As I type this, it’s 80% sold out – so if you’d interested, I’d suggest joining us sooner rather than later!
Other than that, I’m gearing up for two weeks in Costa Rica – one week hosting a retreat for Fit & Fly Girl, one week poking around San Jose with a friend. If you have recs for San Jose, send ’em my way!
Links for you
Since we’re deep into resolution season: An insanely easy way to stick to stick to your resolutions
Related: one of my goals for this year is to finally get serious about Instagram! So I’m very into this $200 course bundle that’s currently going for $97 – and it promises that I don’t have to be ‘instaperfect’ which is good because I am not.
This week I was on the Branding Outside The Box podcast talking about creating for your community and how we can’t take what people like (and don’t like) personally. You can listen to the episode here. Also: I LOVE being on podcasts. If you have one, I’d probably like to be on it! Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s get something scheduled!
It’s citrus season, so here’s how to make candied orange peel!
I love it when people respect the era and bones of their homes (not everything has to be open concept!!!) so I loved this article full of tips for emphasizing period charm.
A member shared this in our Money & Happy Facebook group: What happens when you spending diary goes viral?
In a very long, typewritten letter, a reader told me my fecklessness brought shame on my parents and my editor and warned that, if not addressed, it would cause tension with my future husband and our hypothetical children, culminating, potentially, in my alcoholism. “I have not written this in anger,” she concluded, “but out of serious concern for the way you are wasting your money and your life.”
“Farmers market fresh, without the farmers market trip” I AM INTRIGUED!
Hope you had a lovely week! You can follow along on Instagram if you’re curious about what I get up to Costa Rica! (Last time I went white water rafting and fell out going over the rapids. So.)
I hope Christmas was lovely for those of you who celebrate it! We’ve been laying low in this weird week between Christmas and New Years. Lots of movies, long walks, and plotting 2019.
Links for you
A few weeks ago, I shared on Instagram Stories that I often make new candles out of the melted bits of old candles. I got tons of questions about how I do it, so here’s a tutorial.
Also, I’m a huge fan of wood wick candles (they make crackling fire sounds!) and you can buy the wicks for your candle-making adventures here.
Reminder: I’m teaching the money module of Courtney Carver’s super popular year-long course A Simple Year. This is the last year she’s offering the program, so if you’ve been on the fence now is the time!
Are you still friends with everyone you invited to your wedding?
So good: the pleasure/happiness gap.
Pleasure and happiness feel like they are substitutes for each other, different ways of getting the same thing. But they’re not. Instead, they are things that are possible to get confused about in the short run, but in the long run, they couldn’t be more different.
Both are cultural constructs. Both respond not only to direct, physical inputs (chemicals, illness) but more and more, to cultural ones, to the noise of comparisons and narratives.
I am weirdly into extensively tested product recommendations, so I loved this round up of all Real Simple magazine’s ‘road tests.‘
This is a great time of year to assemble a New Things list for 2019 – here’s how to do it!
Co-signed: Why you need ‘white space’ in your daily routine
Time scarcity is like kryptonite for creativity. If we want to create an environment that nourishes innovation and imagination, we need to build quiet counterpoints into our daily rhythm. These small moments of “white space”— where we have time to pause and reflect, or go for a walk, or just breathe deeply for a few moments — are what give balance and flow and comprehension to our lives as a larger whole.
Hope you had a lovely week, friends!